Worcestershire County Council has approved the funding proposals for the planned Energy from Waste facility (EfW) giving its green light to progress.

At a meeting at County Hall yesterday (January 16) councillors voted 42 to 11 in favour of approving the funding arrangements for the scheme.

EnviRecover, which will be built on Hartlebury Trading Estate, will have capacity to divert 200,000 tonnes of waste from landfill sites each year. Planning consent for the plant was given by the Secretary of State in July 2012. Construction is expected to start this year and it is planned to be fully operational in 2017.

Cabinet approved the variation to the existing Waste Management Services Contract (25 years) Worcestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council has with Mercia Waste Management Ltd (Mercia), which was signed in 1998, at its meeting on December 12, 2013. No further Central Government approval is now required.

The contract already includes:

Material Reclamation Facilities;

Waste Transfer Stations;

Household Waste Sites (now Household Recycling Centres);

Operations and Management of Hill and Moor Landfill, Construction and;

Composting facilities.

In 2023/24 its forecast that 222,518 tonnes of residual waste will be produced in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Incremental Landfill Taxes set by Central Government, which have increased from £6 per tonne in 1996 to £80 per tonne (from April 2014), landfill site forecast to be full by 2023/24 and the significant risk of additional costs in securing out of county facility for residual waste, means doing nothing is not an option both in environmental and financial sense.

The cost of pursuing the Energy from Waste option over its whole cost life (until 2042) is £700million. In 2016/17 the uplift (additional) payment is £6.6million from the point EfW becomes operational. It has been claimed that costs for the EfW facility alone would cost £1.65billion or £38million a year. This is not the case as both previous Cabinet and today’s Full Council reports confirm (both attached).

Cllr Anthony Blagg, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "The decision by Full Council to approve the funding for the Energy from Waste facility is very welcome.

"The point has been made many times before, but I would stress that sitting back and doing nothing is simply not an option. These key decisions taken by Cabinet and Full Council have not been taken lightly. Years of work has gone into addressing this issue and not pursuing this option, which is a proven piece of technology identified as the best solution after considering a number of alternatives, would cost the residents of Worcestershire and Herefordshire £128million as things stand today.

"This decision changes nothing when it comes to the commitment we have to prevent waste being produced in the first place, and then reducing the amounts sent to landfill through recycling or composting. Getting away from our reliance on landfill is vitally important because space is reducing, it is costly and it impacts on the environment.

"The Energy-from-Waste facility is not seen as a ‘one size, fits all’ approach or an alternative to recycling. It will in fact complement the many improvements made when it comes to recycling over the last few years, which include EnviroSort and the Household Recycling sites."

The EfW facility will be handed over to Worcestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council as an asset when the current Waste Management Services Contract ends in 2023. The EfW has an expected operational life until 2042.

The proposed EfW plant is expected to create an additional 250 jobs during construction and 45 when operational.